A time-variant algorithm of autoregressive (AR) identification is introduced and applied to the heart rate variability (HRV) signal. The power spectrum is calculated from the AR coefficients derived from each single RR interval considered. Time-variant AR coefficients are determined through adaptive parametric identification with a forgetting factor which obtains weighed values on a running temporal window of 50 preceding measurements. Power spectrum density (PSD) is hence obtained at each cardiac cycle, making it possible to follow the dynamics of the spectral parameters on a beat-by-beat basis. These parameters are mainly the LF (low frequency) and the HF (high frequency) powers, and their ratio LF/HF. These together account for the balanced sympatho-vagal control mechanism affecting the heart rate. This method is applied to subjects suffering from transient ischemic attacks. The time variant spectral parameters suggest an early activation of LF component in the ''RV power spectrum. It precedes by approximately 1.5-2 min the tachycardia and the ST displacement, generally indicative of the onset of an ischemic episode. The results suggest an arousal of sympathetic system before the acute attack.